In July 2015, Dutch energy company Eneco organized a open service design jam, in which the opportunities of implementing a service design process was central point of discussion. Due to rapid changes in technology, for example in the energy production market where the development and usage of solar panels has increased tremendously, consumers’ demands are shifting. From the first electrical power station, build in 1868 in Northumberland, the UK, to the possibilities for consumers today to take care of their own energy production, with solar panels transforming up to 40% of sunlight can into energy. This example of the speedy transition from centralized to decentralized energy production indicates that consumers become less dependent and more and more self-sufficient. The implication for energy companies are enormous: how can they cope with this change in order to stay ahead of fierce competitors and keep track on the needs of their customers?
Service design: a driver for innovation
Service design is a methodology that enables companies to create, test and commercialize opportunities in a swift and smooth way. Research has shown that companies that are willing to change and put service design into their business strategy, have on average a 6% higher overall performance. According to the UK Design Council, every Euro that is invested in design, results in an additional revenue of €20,- and an additional profit of €4.12. And when quoting Charles Darwin: “The ones that survive are the ones that are most adaptable and responsive to change”. The challenge is how to create a culture and approach to make corporates innovate like start-ups.
The three steps of Service Design
The service design process involves three different phases: framing, designing and prototyping.
- In the first phase, a company or industry specific problem is defined and explained clearly, in combination with all stakeholders and their relation towards the issue.
- Throughout the design stage of the process, observing and researching your stakeholders is key in order to discover their thoughts and point of views on for the centralized to decentralized energy transition. Based on this research, a “persona” is created which characterizes your stakeholder on all the insights obtained from research. In addition, the first ideas about how to bring the research findings into practice are being brainstormed and the first foundation of the design of the service is captured.
- The next phase involves prototyping and focuses on the well functioning of your service and the perception of the customers. The prototype should be tested and validated by your stakeholder groups of interest. An important aspect is to gather feedback from your stakeholders and iterate, optimize, and eventually finalize the service.
What you must know about Service Design
- Service design has gained importance and more and more companies, not only energy providers, will need to offer innovative services in order to stay in the game.
- The essence is to put your customer in the central position and create a service around his or her customer journey. This journey explains every step your customer undertakes when it consumes your service. It is your task, as a company, to provide the right experience in every single step of the customer journey.
- It is essential to create a business model around the newly developed service, in which you prove that your prototype is feasible and will contribute positively to the financial bottom line of your company. A useful tool to use is the Business Model Canvas, introduced by Osterwalder & Pigneur in their book Business Model Generation.
Let's get started: sparking innovation at your company
Are you interested in driving innovation and creating sustainable services for your company? Please feel free to contact Jan van der Kaaij, Managing Partner at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +31 6 28 02 18 80 to see how we can help you out with sustainable innovation.
Image source:_dChris, Flickr